By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) this week suggested the chamber could complete a surface transportation bill before the end of the year.

He cautioned the package “probably won’t be as bold as the president was talking about” due to lingering reluctance to increase the federal motor fuels tax, which hasn’t been raised since 1993. President Donald Trump has championed a $1 trillion infrastructure package, which included more than transportation.

“We will do a transportation bill. It will be more along the size of a traditional every four or five year transportation bill,” McConnell said on CNBC.

In late July, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved a five-year highway reauthorization bill that significantly increases federal investment in highway safety and mobility improvements. The measure needs to pass the Senate Commerce, Banking and Finance committees for their respective policy and financing components before in can come to a vote by the full chamber.

On the other side of the capitol, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told Transport Topics that his panel is meeting with stakeholders and drafting portions of a bill.

“I would hope we’ll be far along by the end of the year and could mark up a bill early next year,” he said. “Then it goes to Ways and Means [tax-writing committee] for funding.”

ARTBA has been meeting all summer with members of Congress, their staffs, and federal agency heads to brief them about our 32-page blueprint of legislative and regulatory recommendations for the next highway and transit bill. We will continue to do so.